Dubai welcomed record-breaking 10 million tourists last year

Dubai welcomed more than 10 million tourists for the first time last year as the emirate experienced a surge in visitors from its largest source markets.

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Dubai welcomed more than 10 million tourists for the first time last year as the emirate experienced a surge in visitors.

Visitor numbers were boosted by increases from its largest source markets - such as a 30 per cent rise in tourists from Saudi Arabia and a 54 per cent increase in Russian visitors, both countries which feature in the city's top five markets.

Overall, the emirate recorded a 9.3 per cent rise in hotel guests and cruise passengers in 2012 to 10.16 million people.

"For the first time in our city's history we have crossed the 10 million threshold in visitor numbers," said Helal Almarri,the director general of Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

"This growth is due to a number of factors including the city-wide destination management strategy, our world-class infrastructure, our location at the crossroads of East and West, and our unrelenting efforts to enhance our diverse and compelling tourism offer."

There were also increases in the number of nights people stayed in the emirate, their average length of stay and hotel revenues.

"The growth across each indicator is a welcome confirmation of Dubai's ever-increasing appeal and a testament to the aggressive marketing and promotional agenda of DTCM in positioning Dubai as the major tourist hub of the region and a global destination of choice," said Mr Almarri.

Hotel guests increased 9.5 per cent to 9.96 million, and the number of nights they stayed climbed 14 per cent.

"The increasing average length of stay and the rising number of hotel apartments is evidence of a growing trend in people and families visiting Dubai for longer periods; historically the city was seen by some markets as a stopover destination but in recent years it has become the destination," said Mr Almarri.

Hotel revenues rose as a result of the extra nights by almost 18 per cent to Dh18.82 billion (US$5.12bn).

And the number of hotels also climbed, to 599 properties from 575. Openings included Fairmont The Palm, JW Marriott Marquis and Jumeirah Creekside.

But the additional rooms did not force down room rates, which rose on average from Dh563 in 2011 to Dh588 last year.

Saudi Arabia was Dubai's largest source market with 1.13 million visitors, followed by India, the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia.

China was the 10th on the list of top visitors, but the number of visitors from the country climbed by 28 per cent last year alone.

And Dubai hopes to grow the number of tourists from China, the world's second-largest economy, who spend about Dh202bn a year worldwide, still further through additional marketing initiatives.

Mr Almarri said the rise in visitors was partly linked to increasing cross-border trade and investment ties with countries such as China. "As these links continue to develop, visitors from these nations will continue to rise," he said.

"It's encouraging to see that visitor numbers from all of the markets in which DTCM has a representative office continue to swell, demonstrating the role that our overseas offices play in helping to drive growth in both intra-regional traffic and in arrivals from other key source markets such as India, the UK, the US, Russia, Germany and China," he added.